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6th February 2023

“We are in prayer every moment because we know our help will come from the almighty God. That’s why we are begging everyone to pray to our God for us,” says Melih Ekener, SAT-7 TÜRK Executive Director.

Staff at SAT-7’s Turkish TV studios are deeply shocked and request prayer for their country following this morning’s massive earthquakes.

In a short statement, SAT-7 TÜRK said, “We are shocked and very sad. Currently, in many provinces, people are waiting for help under the rubble. The weather is cold and resources are limited… Please pray with us for the rescue of those who are under the rubble as soon as possible and for the necessary treatment for those who are injured… May the Lord comfort those who lost their loved ones.”

“Many of our staff have families, homes, churches, relatives, and friends living in southeast Türkiye,” said SAT-7 TÜRK Executive Assistant Annamaria Cedolin. “Many have seen pictures of their family homes collapsed; cathedrals and churches have come down.”

The earthquakes struck at 4:17 a.m. local time near the border city of Gaziantep and at 1:24 p.m. 80 miles to the north, causing destruction and loss of life across a wide area of southeast Türkiye and northwest Syria. At the time of writing, the combined death toll has risen to nearly 20,000.

As emergency teams worked to rescue survivors from collapsed buildings, SAT-7 staff, like citizens across Türkiye, waited anxiously for news of family members, while many phone lines were down.

Broadcasting from Istanbul, Şemsa Deniz Bakır, the presenter of SAT-7 TÜRK’s first live program of the day, Homemade, invited any viewers who needed spiritual support to call. The channel has continued to share up-to-date information about the earthquake and local information on how viewers can help, as well as what affected people need the most.

A viewer of the show messaged to say, “May the Lord give patience to those who are left behind and healing to those who are injured. I share their pain and pray they find the courage to overcome this trauma.”

The channel’s news program has been preparing extensive coverage of the rescue operation while its news page is constantly updating with reports of the disaster, and it notes that churches have opened their doors to affected people. Sad news came in from Hatay province, one of those most badly affected: Pastor Hakan and his wife Pola Konur of Iskenderun Bible Church were among those who lost their lives, although their son, Yoel, was rescued from the rubble.

A dedicated episode of the program Worldview also went live yesterday. The presenters discussed Psalm 13 to provide spiritual support for people who are currently experiencing negative feelings, such as anger.

As the channel team try to get to grips with what has happened, Executive Director Melih Ekener said they are seeking God’s help to know how best to respond:

How are we going to help people who are buried under the rubble? How can we comfort those who have survived this disaster but are saddened because their loved ones are under the rubble? How can we give hope to people who live in the earthquake zone? We need your wisdom and your Spirit.

SAT-7’s Arabic channel will also cover the disaster in Tuesday’s live New Angle program from the channel’s Cairo studio. SAT-7’s Lebanon studio will report on the situation and its effect on Syrian refugees in Friday’s current affairs show, You Are Not Alone.

SAT-7 International CEO Rita El-Mounayer comments: “We are all so devastated by the situation in Türkiye and Syria. People are suffering directly because of the earthquake, but fear, cold and confusion are playing a huge role in this tragedy as well. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with the people there. We are weeping and mourning with them, lifting them up with our prayers. May God have mercy.”

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